Pizza Buns Are The Fusion Snack Found At Japanese Convenience Stores

Walk into a bodega or convenience store here in the U.S. and you'll find grab-and-go snacks like hot dogs, packaged sandwiches, and maybe fried chicken depending on where you reside. Thousands of miles away in Japan, you may run into a unique snack known as a pizza bun, or pizza-man as it's called there. The snack looks similar to traditional Chinese bao buns, but it has fillings that are typically used as pizza toppings like tomato sauce and cheese.

In Japan, the country's version of bao buns are called Nikuman (now the name pizza-man makes more sense), which are typically filled with pork and then steamed. The pizza-man bun is a fusion of Asian and Italian flavors with the simplest version consisting of a fluffy wheat bun that's filled with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Depending on where you try a pizza-man, it might also have meat like bacon or ground beef inside the steamed bun. These snacks are pre-made and packaged alongside other steamed buns and an assortment of snacks like onigiri (rice balls), fried chicken, and fish cakes.

Find pizza buns at 7-Elevens in Japan

In Japan, there are many places like konbinis (the country's 24-hour convenience stores) that serve pizza-man buns. Local sources credit chains like 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart to have the best options to try the next time you're in Japan. The snacks are described as a fluffy bun that's usually a shade of orange with a gooey cheese and sauce. According to reviews, there are varying cheese-to-sauce ratios depending on where you buy one.

While this writer has never been to Japan, I did come across a frozen version of these snacks at H Mart (the biggest chain of Asian supermarkets in the U.S.) a few months ago that were filled with bacon — and I had to try one even though I hadn't heard of them before. As instructed, I steamed a bun and took a bite. The result? The outside was the fluffy steamed bun you'd expect, and the inside was a burst of rich tomato sauce and cheese. Was it tasty? Yes, but I honestly wouldn't buy this frozen snack again because the filling wasn't as flavorful as I'd prefer, and the bacon was lost in the mixture.

If you're intrigued by pizza buns, head to your local Asian supermarket to find a version, or make them at home with recipes found online that call for a standard dough and a filling of ground beef, tomato sauce, garlic, and cheese.